The 5 Stages of Grief

When losing someone or something that is important to us we often go through 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Each stage serves a purpose to help us come to terms with a loss. This complex emotional response to loss is unique to each person and not always linear. 

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Intro to 5 Stages of Grief

Losing something we love, or someone who is dear to us, can cause us a lot of pain. To accept the loss and overcome the pain, we often go through five stages of grief. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. 

Denial
Grief-Denial

First comes Denial. When we experience a loss, we feel shocked and numb, and then simply deny what happened. The refusal to accept the truth temporarily protects us from all the negative thoughts and consequences of the tragedy. Denial gives us a bit of room to breathe.

Anger
Grief-Anger

Then comes Anger. We feel furious and resentful, often blaming ourselves or others for the catastrophe. Anger shields us from pain. We feel less vulnerable and more in control of the situation.

Bargaining
Grief-Bargaining

Then there is Bargaining. It is an attempt to regain control and negotiate the reality of the loss. We try to make promises or seek outside solutions to somehow reverse the irreversible.

depression
Grief-Depression

When the loss sinks in, Depression follows. We go through feelings of sadness and despair. We withdraw from others. As we face reality, depression can help us process our grief. Healing can begin.

Acceptance
Grief-Acceptance

Lastly, there is acceptance. We come to terms with what has happened. This does not mean we forget, but we find a way to integrate the loss into our life. We may now honor the memories of those who have departed and look ahead, knowing that after all, life goes on. Getting to acceptance, however, does not mean it is over.

Ongoing journey of grief
Ongoing journey of grief

Grief is a complex emotional response to loss, particularly the loss of someone we love or something deeply meaningful — like a job. This process is unique to each of us and is not always linear.  

Often we cycle back, revisit stages or experience some entirely new emotions. Sometimes it can feel like we are regressing, but with the support of others and each new day, time will help heal our wounds.

elisabeth kübler-ross
Elizabeth Kubler-ross

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a psychiatrist who supported those facing their own death, observed the five stages in the 1960es. She later wrote: “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths.” 

What do you think?
Grief WDYT

What do you think? Have you ever experienced a significant loss in life? And if so, did you go through these 5 stages or did you take another path to deal with it? Please share your thoughts and insights in the comments below.

Sources

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Classroom activity

In this activity students will learn about the 5 stages of grief and how it unfolds. 

  • Ask the class if they ever lost someone – or something that they were attached to, and how that made them feel. 
  • Write on the blackboard the different emotions that the students come up with. 
  • Ask them if they think these emotions appear in any particular order. 
  • Show the class Sprouts’ video on the 5 stages of Grief. 
  • Ask the students if the emotions they have described fit into the 5 stages. 
  • Ask the class if they have experienced these stages in their lives, and explain that they can experience grief even for smaller things – like losing a favorite toy. 

Collaborators

  • Script: Ludovico Saint Amour di Chanaz and Jonas Koblin
  • Artist: Pascal Gaggelli
  • Voice: Matt Abbott
  • Coloring: Nalin
  • Editing: Peera Lertsukittipongsa
  • Production: Selina Bador
  • Sound Design: Miguel Ojeda

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